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Spinning Out of Control

There is no doubt that our lives have been changed by modern conveniences. Appliances like the washing machine and dishwasher are time-savers that allow us to complete our chores more quickly so that we can enjoy gadgets like i-pods, cell phones and remote controls that instantly download movies to high-definition flat screen TVs. Some of these innovations, however, really don’t seem to serve any useful purpose. Does using a motorized tie rack, banana slicer or spinning lollipop really improve the quality of our lives?

While a motorized spinning lollipop may not have improved the quality of your life, it certainly improved the lives of the mail carriers who developed it. These creative mail carriers were discontent with the traditional lollipop eating experience and wanted to improve it. They believed that lollipops just weren’t as fun as they could be. Sure, there were lollipops with gum or candy in the center like Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops. There were also those big, colorful, swirly lollipops that took the better part of your childhood to consume. In their heyday, these lollipops were new and exciting, but they had become mundane. The introduction of the spinning lollipop brought fun and excitement back to eating a lollipop. No longer would lollipop enthusiasts need to bore themselves with the tedious licking and sucking necessary to enjoy this confection.  With this new candy delivery system, people could just stick out their tongues, relax and let the lollipop do all the work. That’s much more fun!

In the mid 1990s, John Osher of Cap Toys bought the spinning lollipop invention and began marketing Spin Pops as part of an “interactive” line of candy. Isn’t all candy interactive?  It goes in your mouth – that is the interaction.  In a world full of political correctness and sugar-coated reality, considering the act of eating a lollipop “interactive” deludes people into thinking that they are doing something active rather than being passive consumers of candy. Any energy expended when eating a lollipop is limited to unwrapping the packaging then moving the lollipop in and, occasionally out, of one’s mouth. It’s not exactly a strenuous activity that warrants motorized assistance.

Having a lollipop that rotates as you stick out your tongue has to be the pinnacle of laziness. Could something that seems to contribute to the downfall of society have anything redeeming to offer? Surprisingly, it did. You may even be benefitting from its contributions. After selling Cap Toys for over 100 million dollars, John Osher, began working with a group of designers using the spinning lollipop technology. Together, they developed the Spin Brush spinning toothbrush as a way to bring affordable, motorized dental hygiene to the masses; people who would have otherwise had to spend their entire lives brushing their teeth manually. (Insert horrified gasp here.) Spinning toothbrushes existed prior to this development, but they were expensive by toothbrush standards, about $80 each. Why should the wealthy be the only ones to have pearly white teeth? Apparently, the executives at Procter and Gamble felt that even people with modest incomes should be entitled to mechanically enhanced dental hygiene. They bought Osher’s company for hundreds of millions of dollars.

This inexpensive, spinning toothbrush revolution may have led to improved dental hygiene and less toothbrushing induced elbow fatigue, but things are beginning to spin out of control. Last week, an MSNBC.com article with an unnerving title, “FDA Warns of Toothbrushes that Mess Up your Face”, caught my attention.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer safety update for a specific brand of spinning toothbrushes because of an uptick in toothbrush related injuries. People using these mechanical toothbrushes reported serious injuries: chipped teeth, cuts to the cheeks and gums and burns from the batteries. If the bristles fall out or snap off, as they have been known to do, they can become a choking hazard. To minimize the likelihood of injury while brushing your teeth, the FDA recommends closely adhering to the manufacturers’ instructions on proper use of the spinning toothbrush. That is, if you can find any instructions on the narrow package. In addition, they suggest never biting down on the head of your toothbrush while brushing; excellent advice whether you are using a manual or mechanical toothbrush.

Our lives are hectic, so we look for ways to save time and be more efficient, even in our daily, basic hygiene routines. Living in a “there’s an app for that”, over-automated world, we assume that anything motorized, mechanical or electronic will make tasks easier. We forget that sometimes the simplest way to do something doesn’t involve batteries. Maybe we should all just slow down, enjoy a lollipop then brush our teeth the old-fashioned way.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

58 responses »

  1. So I can stop feeling old-fashioned and start feeling righteous for not being lazy? Oh no, I can’t do that, I just realized I’m sitting here thinking of things that could use a motor so I wouldn’t have to work so much. That shower another commenter mentioned (too lazy to scroll up to find his/her name) I’m thinking I would like that. Only I would take it one step further, I wouldn’t have to get undressed so not only would I get completely clean so would my clothes, jewelry, shoes… So I’m lazy and old-fashioned…oh well.

    Reply
    • Getting into the shower with everything on is a novel idea for cleaning your body, clothes and accessories all in one fell swoop. Drying off after that might be a challenge though and wind up requiring more effort than it would have been to initially remove your clothing before showering.

      Don’t think of yourself as old fashioned and lazy. Think of yourself as vintage with selective motivation.

      Thanks for stopping by, reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

      Reply
  2. Love this one. As Telly would have said. “Who loves you babe”

    Reply
  3. Sometimes, I feel too lazy to go take a shower and then, I have wondered if, sometime in the future, some brainy guy might come up with some kind of innovation that would just require us to stand in a certain place/spot and within a second (or maybe a minute :D) complete the whole showering process! 😀

    Reply
  4. I love this!!! So glad I found your blog, will follow!

    Reply
  5. Another product you never knew you needed! …..and so environmentally friendly? (do you think tiny hands will be involved making these? more irony?) How many of these lovely treats will collectors keep untouched in their wrappers? (go for it roaches!)
    A delicious blog post to make you think.

    Reply
    • These lollipops are defniitely not eco-friendly. Maybe someone should invent a lollipop with a candy stick so that the whole thing is edible and therefore better for the environment. I’m glad you thought the post was food candy for thought.

      Reply
  6. I didn t even know they had spinning lollipops! But i do use an ele tric toothbrush!

    Reply
  7. El Guapo will be using the motors from 973 discarded lollipop spinners to build a machine to bring down the Machine.
    For it’s own good.

    Reply
  8. How ironic that the spinning toothbrush – created to promote dental health – is linked to a candy that is not so great for your teeth. Very informative post.

    Reply
  9. Ha! Kojak is a perfect ending to this. I love that you say he wouldn’t look as cool with his sucker if it was spinning — why did this become cool anyway? A grown man with a lollipop? Egad, am I saying he would’ve looked more cool with a cig? Oh no, I think I am! I just killed my dream career of working on anti-smoking PSAs.

    Reply
    • I didn’t really understand most of Kojak when it was on TV since I was pretty young. Basically, all I remember is that he was a detective and he had a lollipop, but I think I remember hearing that he had the lollipop because he was quitting smoking. I’m sure there’s some Kojak fan website somewhere that would clarify that information.

      Your dream career of doing anti-smoking PSAs may be out, but maybe you can be in an Afterschool Special.

      Reply
  10. Kojak does look good with a lollipop! The only way to go is to take it slow 😉

    Reply
  11. Soon, we will be able to enjoy a motorized lollipop while we relax in our self-driving cars. The future is closer than we think – mwooh-ha-ha-ha… http://fox8.com/2012/02/22/are-driverless-cars-of-the-future-closer-than-we-think/

    Reply
    • Thanks for the link. Maybe cars that talk to each other would help make up for the people who are talking on their cell phones and not paying attention to driving.

      By the way, did you happen to notice the unfortunate last name of the CEO they interviewed? It was Belcher.

      Reply
  12. You should apply for Andy Rooney’s spot. Call your segment, “Life with a Touch of Paprika”……

    Reply
  13. Well said! I’m all for simplifiying life, BUT . . . I do love my electric toothbrush–it gets my teeth super clean. See? 😀

    Reply
  14. Coincidence or not, we’re on a similar track this week PF. Good to see you writing, been a while. Personally, I thought candy necklaces were ever so convenient, but the elastic got kind of slobbery which probably took away from the “look at my cool accessory” affect.

    Reply
  15. Right on! I like modern convenienced…but i draw the line at certain points! Brava, Pap!

    Reply
  16. I suspected that spinning lollipops were stupid but, until reading this post, I didn’t know they had anything to do with my toothbrush. Now that I know how lazy I am, I’ll never buy another spinning toothbrush. (I think they’re messy anyway!) Fun post!

    Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Spinning lollipops are definitely stupid, but at least the spinning toothbrush has some redeeming value. I was really surprised when I stumbled across the information about how the two are related.

      Reply
  17. Love the combination of useless – yet interesting – information, combined with a great sense of humor and tons of sarcasm! Thanks for my grin this morning!

    Reply
    • So glad I could make you grin, Cathie 🙂

      I was really surprised to learn that the spinning toothbrush was a direct descendant of the spinning lollipop. I’m worried about the space that useless information is going to take up in my brain leaving less space for information that is actually useful.

      Reply
  18. The spinning lollypop has also revolutionized the teaching of math in elementary schools around the globe (another spinner). Now students must calculate numbers such as: the speed needed to dissolve an eighth of the lollypop in 17 minutes, and the square root of the tooth decay initiated and grown along with the spinning lolly.

    Ronnie

    Reply
  19. I’m intrigued, Paprika.

    * Does *each* lollipop have its own ‘spinner’? If so, would that not make them really expensive? And what happens with the discarded sticks and batteries? Are they a landfill hazard?
    * Is it battery driven? If so, what happens if the batteries run out of juice before the lollipop is consumed?
    * Or is it a ‘spinning motor’, into which all kinds of lollipops can be inserted and securely clipped? (I mean, you wouldn’t want them spinning out of control, that might be hugely embarrassing…)
    * If so, do they come in different sizes, and is the motor adjustable? e.g. fast spin for those who are hyperactive and rush-rush-rush, slow spin for those who prefer a more meditative approach?
    * And can they be extended to spin two lollipops, perhaps in alternating directions, for super-achievers?

    Reply
    • You ask some excellent questions, Reggie. A+ to you for giving this post so much thought.

      I have never purchased or eaten a spinning lollipop so I did a little research to answer your questions as best I can:

      The Spin Pop is battery powered. If the battery dies while you are in the midst of eating the lollipop you can change the battery or you can eat it the old-fashioned way.

      I couldn’t find specific information about how the lollipop is attached, but based on my completely unscientific observations, I think you can replace the lollipop in the holder so you wouldn’t need to buy a new spinner every time.

      There was no information about tandem lollipop spinners or multi-direcional, variable speed lollipop spinners. That may be the next big idea. You could be a millionaire!

      Since you were concerned about the environmental impact of the battery powered spinning lollipop, I did find something called a Krank Pop which is a wind up spinning lollipop. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtUqOWCD5Wk

      I hope that answers some of your questions 🙂

      Reply
  20. I love your wit and sarcasm! How lucky are we that we never again have to face a world filled with severe tongue exhaustion from trying to eat a lollipop…without technology!?!

    Reply
  21. You know, now that I’m 54, I realize Telly Savalas was HOT! And the lolly pop makes him even cuter. Well, if that doesn’t make it official that I’m middle-aged, nothing will.
    Thanks for another fun post!

    Reply
  22. Maybe after all the bristles in the twirling toothbrush fall out, it can be repurposed as an automatic spaghetti twirler. imagine how much easier out lives would be if we didn’t have to manipulate our own pasta!

    Reply
    • Great minds think alike. I thought about using the technology for pasta twirling, too. I also thought it could be applied to ice cream cones. The scoop of ice cream could revlolve at the proper speed so that you could consistently lick before it begins to melt and drip down the cone onto your hand.

      Reply
  23. I agree with you. I’d rather slow down and enjoy both the lollipop and teeth brushing manually!!! 🙂

    Reply
  24. It is good to hear from you again! I was beginging to wonder how busy, crazy and hectic your life had become. I certainly did not want to entertain the notion that life wasn’t being good humored for you!!!! I enjoyed the post very much. Who would have thunk that a spinning lolipop would lead to a spinning toothbrush?

    Reply
    • Thanks, it’s nice to know I was missed. Trying to keep up with everything has been hectic. It’s been a challenge, but I’m managing to stay good humored.

      I was surprised that the spinning lollipop and toothbrush were related. Seems like a conflict of interest to me.

      Reply
  25. What fun is it to have a motor help you finish a lollipop “lickety-split!!!???” And it is further evidence that B.T. Barnum was right only he did not think they would be machine driven.

    Reply
  26. Dare I be first to say it? Paprika, you put a wonderful spin on this. Do you think you are marketable? 🙂

    Reply
  27. I always wanted a spinning lollipop. I think if they marketed it as “the lazypop” it would have been more succesful. The fact that it’s looked at as a way to be more productive takes away all credibility.

    Reply
  28. Mr. Owl would have had a hard time with a motorized lollipop. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6soZ7c3m_fI&feature=related

    Reply
    • Great clip! Thanks for including the link. I’m sure Mr. Owl could have done some sort of calculation to determine the number of revolutions a spinning lollipop would need to make to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

      Reply

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